Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Phantom (The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters #1) by L. J. Smith*

Phantom: v. 8 (The Vampire Diaries)*this book was written by an anonymous ghost-writer

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Since meeting vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore, Elena Gilbert has been to hell and back. Now that she and her friends have saved their hometown from a demonic sprit, everything can finally go back to normal. But Elena should know better than anyone that Fell’s Church will never be normal. In Phantom, a dangerous new other-worldly threat sets its sights on Elena. And this time she can only count on one Salvatore brother to protect her.


I was a little afraid of being disappointed by this book as I heard plenty of speculations regarding how it would differ from the rest of the series, but fortunately all my hopes for it have been realised and my fear was unfounded. The ghost-writer does a good job, keeping the familiar elements and improving the shortcoming(s) of the previous books.

Truly, Phantom has a somewhat different feel that the rest of the series so far, mainly due to writing which is considerably improved. Apart from two typos and a few awkward formulations the writing is generally good. The transitions between the scenes are smooth and coherent, taking away the messiness and confusion of the previous books. 

Consequently, Phantom may seem less intense than the previous books as the plot does not jump from one event to another. While allowing the reader to savour the story, the plot remains dynamic and unpredictable, offering plenty of surprises. Nevertheless, Phantom is less frantic (which is a good thing) than other books in the series, because it gives an equal focus to the plot and the characters.

The characters are the same familiar faces I love, but naturally, they change and develop, as they should. Throughout the series, the character that changes the most is Damon, and in Phantom the traits of his personality already explored and developed in The Return trilogy are shown in their full potential.

The characters’ personalities, emotions, and relationships among them are the basis of Phantom. The set of events forces the characters to bring out their most hidden parts, their most secret emotions. The new supernatural evil in Phantom has everything to do with feelings; hence we get to see the worst of the individual characters as their negative emotions gets amplified and twisted. I loved the portrayal of this new supernatural creature – it fits perfectly to the concept it represents (I can not say which as to avoid spoilers).

Finally, I have to say I love how the titles of this series always correspond to the story, yet I can never guess from the title how it is connected to the story and finding it out always pleasantly surprises me. The same goes for Phantom. I had had my speculations and expectations, but I still did not guess right. This, in addition to everything else I mentioned, makes this book an enticing read.

RECOMMENDATION: If one can keep an open mind and not hate the book just because it was written by a ghost-writer and give it a real chance, Phantom is a great read, preserving the already familiar features of the series and at the same time taking it to a new level. 

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